By Siham Ali
Moroccan Youth and Sports Minister Mohamed Ouzzine had to answer some tough questions from parliamentarians.
The minister addressed the MPs just four days before the national football federation (FRMF) terminated the contract of coach Eric Gerets. The decision, announced on Saturday (September 15th), came in response to the 2-0 CAN qualifier loss to Mozambique on September 9th.
Ouzzine vowed to remedy failings in the Moroccan sports system, following the losses of the national football team and Morocco’s lacklustre performance in the London Olympic Games.
The state has ploughed in significant resources, but results failed to keep pace, said MP Anas Doukkali of the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS). He called for laying out a strategic vision for sport in general.
Justice and Development Party (PJD) parliamentarian Abdellah Bouanou also spoke about the colossal investment injected into the sports sector without generating positive results.
The sports minister, however, insisted that the problem does not reside with resources. He pointed to a lack of strategic vision in each sporting discipline, weaknesses in training, failings in the system to identify skills, the lack of an evaluation system and shortcomings in medical training.
“Everyone is responsible, but no one has responsibility,” he said.
Sport is marginalised in schools and universities, Ouzzine complained. To remedy the situation, he proposed a raft of measures. The minister suggested setting up a tripartite committee comprising the sports ministry, the national education ministry and the department of higher education to promote sport in schools and universities from the start of this academic year.
There will also be an effective system introduced to spot talent across all four corners of Morocco. Particular attention will be paid to the international sports in which Morocco has achieved well in the past, notably athletics and football. An anti-doping centre and sports medicine centre will be created.
Legislators criticised the minister and the head of the Moroccan football federation (FRMF) for excluding former champions like Said Aouita and Hicham El Guerrouj, who could play a part in boosting the sector, according to MPs.
The minister announced the forthcoming creation of a committee of experts, who will generate ideas to support decision-makers.
Disappointment is clear among the Moroccan public.
“We’re fed up with talking. We need action. I’ve stopped following the live coverage of international matches, because I know I’m going to be disappointed at the Moroccan performance,” said student Fatiha Taki.
She insisted that officials need to put forward an emergency plan to salvage Moroccan sport.
Ouzzine promised to move onto the implementation phase for the objectives he has set out. For years, he said, people have failed to act upon the strategies they formulated and the agreements they reached with the various parties involved.